By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge revoked bail on Tuesday for the aide to a billionaire real estate developer, after both men were arrested for lying about why they brought $4.5 million in cash into the United States while traveling from China.
Jeff Yin, an assistant to Ng Lap Seng, had been set to be released on a $1 million bond and be placed under home confinement. But U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn in Manhattan ordered Yin detained, calling him "a significant risk of flight."
Netburn noted Yin failed to disclose that he had an unused Chinese passport. Investigators discovered the passport in a packed travel bag, and the judge said it appeared intended for "if you get into a bind."
The decision came as Sabrina Shroff, Yin's lawyer, revealed that a woman who had been holding her client's bag had been secretly charged before Ng, 68, and Yin, 29, were arrested on Sept. 19.
Prosecutors say the woman, identified in court papers as "Individual-1," was an associate of Ng and Yin. She faces sealed charges in federal court in Brooklyn, according to Shroff, who said authorities were trying to build a bigger case.
"Link by link by link they plan to move up the ladder to really charge the person they're after," she said.
Shroff declined to identify the woman for reporters. The U.S. Attorney's offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn declined comment.
U.S. prosecutors say Ng, who heads Sun Kian Yip Group, has a fortune of $1.8 billion, much of which he earned on developments in Macau. He sits on the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, an adviser to the government.
He and Yin were arrested and accused of falsely claiming $4.5 million in cash they brought into the United States from China between 2013 to 2015 was intended for buying art, antiques or real estate, or for gambling.
At a prior hearing, prosecutor Daniel Richenthal, who belongs to a public corruption unit, said Yin, after being arrested, revealed funds were used to pay people "to engage in unlawful activities."
Shroff disputes that account. Ng's attorney has called the case a "misunderstanding."
Ng's name previously surfaced in U.S. investigations into how foreign money might have been funneled into the Democratic National Committee before the 1996 elections.
A source has said Ng was subpoenaed in 2014 in a foreign bribery investigation, after his name surfaced in litigation involving billionaire Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corp.
The case is U.S. v. Seng, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 15-mj-03369.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; editing by Lisa Shumaker and David Gregorio)